How to Prevent and Report Malware and Phishing - dummies

How to Prevent and Report Malware and Phishing

By Amy Lupold Bair

Phishing and malware scams can be a potential digital danger to your kids. Phishing scams trick the victim into providing identifying information that can be used to do a number of things including: stealing money, stealing the user’s identity, or targeting them for similar fraudulent crimes. Malware is malicious software that infects your computer to steal information stored on the computer or interrupt the functioning of your computer.

How to prevent phishing and malware

Most web browsers offer protection from both phishing scams and sites containing malware. Phishing typically surfaces as unsolicited e-mail pretending to be from banks or other institutions (including AOL and PayPal) requesting that the recipient click through and provide information.

Internet Explorer provides users with protection against phishing and malware as part of their default settings. Within the Internet Options Security menu, users can verify that they will be prompted before downloading potentially unsafe content. Discuss with your children that they may see this type of prompt and that they should not proceed with the download.


Within the Mozilla Firefox web browser, users may elect to block sites that have already been reported or that may be trying to install unauthorized downloads. To activate these protective settings, take the following steps:

  1. Select the Firefox menu in the upper left of your web browser.

  2. Select Options and then Options again.

  3. In the Options pop-up window, click the Security tab.

  4. Select the following check boxes:

    • Warn Me When Sites Try to Install Add-ons

    • Block Reported Attack Sites

    • Block Reported web Forgeries

  5. Click OK to save changes.


To activate this protection within Google Chrome, do the following:

  1. Select the Chrome menu in the upper right of your web browser.

  2. Select Settings and Show Advanced Settings.

  3. Under Privacy, select the Enable Phishing and Malware Protection check box.


To enable phishing protection within your Safari web browser, take the following steps:

  1. Choose Edit→Preferences.

    The General dialog box appears by default.

  2. Click the Security tab.

  3. In the Fraudulent Sites section, click the Warn When Visiting a Fraudulent website check box.

  4. After you set preferences, simply close the dialog box.

How to report something phishy

If your child accidentally navigates to a suspicious site, you can certainly report that site while you’re online. To do so via Internet Explorer, take the following steps:

  1. Open the Tools menu (or gear icon) in the upper right while still on the suspicious site.

  2. Choose Safety from the drop-down menu.

  3. Click Report Unsafe website.

Those using the Mozilla Firefox web browser can report a potentially dangerous site by taking the following steps:

  1. Open the Firefox menu (upper left of your web browser).

  2. From the drop-down menu, choose Help and then submit feedback.

To report a potentially dangerous site via the Google Chrome browser, take the following steps:

  1. Click the Google Chrome menu icon (upper right of your web browser).

  2. Choose Tools from the drop-down menu.

  3. Select Report an Issue to send the link, screenshot of the site, and the description of the potential dangers of the site.